KrisFlyer News SilkAir

SilkAir gives Cairns a seasonal boost with daily flights in 2019

A seasonal upgrade will see two additional flights per week on the Singapore-Cairns route for a 5-month period

MI A319 (Rattaphol Kerdkaen via Flickr)

SilkAir announced this week that it would boost flights from Singapore to Cairns to seven times weekly, offering daily service on the route from June to October 2019.

Is it a good value option though, either for miles redemption or when paying cash?

The growing Cairns route

SilkAir first started flying from Singapore to Cairns, its second Australian destination, in May 2015. Initially it was part of a ‘triangular route’ operating either as Singapore – Darwin – Cairns – Singapore or Singapore – Cairns – Darwin – Singapore.

That meant for customers flying solely from Singapore to Cairns two of the three weekly flights actually involved a stop in Darwin en-route, while one of the three Cairns to Singapore flights made the same stop in the Northern Territory.

This added to the journey time, and with the route proving popular a dedicated non-stop Cairns service was introduced in May 2016, flying three times per week.

Great Barrier Reef (Jodi Nelson).jpg
Cairns is popular for its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, especially in the drier June to October months. (Photo: Jodi Nelson)

Progressively services were then increased to four times weekly, followed by a peak season five times weekly operation in July and August 2017, which went on to be made permanent.

The schedule

Here’s how the early summer timings look on SilkAir’s Singapore to Cairns route, operating five days per week.

Summer schedule (until 1st June 2019)
Flight From / To Aircraft Days
MI811 SIN0110 – CNS0955 7M8 1··4·6·
MI813 SIN0845 – CNS1715 7M8 ··3·5··
MI812 CNS1045 – SIN1525 7M8 1··4·6·
MI814 CNS1815 – SIN2305 7M8 ··3·5··

For a five month period between June and October 2019 the MI813/814 flight pairing sees additional service offered on Tuesdays and Sundays, which previously had no Cairns link.

Peak summer schedule (2nd June 2019 to 26th October 2019)
Flight From / To Aircraft Days
MI811 SIN0110 – CNS0955 7M8 1··4·6·
MI813 SIN0845 – CNS1715 7M8 ·23·5·7
MI812 CNS1045 – SIN1525 7M8 1··4·6·
MI814 CNS1815 – SIN2305 7M8 ·23·5·7

The additional flights don’t continue into the northern winter season at the end of October 2019, with the flight schedule reverting to the previous five flights per week from 27th October 2019, with some minor timing changes.

Winter schedule (from 27th October 2019)
Flight From / To Aircraft Days
MI811 SIN0100 – CNS1000 7M8 1··4·6·
MI813 SIN0840 – CNS1720 7M8 ··3·5··
MI812 CNS1055 – SIN1535 7M8 1··4·6·
MI814 CNS1810 – SIN2305 7M8 ··3·5··
Silk 737 Max (MM)
SilkAir flies its Boeing 737 MAX 8 on non-stop flights to Cairns. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

All flights on this route are operated by the Boeing 737 MAX 8, with 12 seats in Business Class and 144 seats in Economy Class.

KrisFlyer redemptions

SilkAir’s Cairns flights are among the longest narrow-body non-stop flights in the SIA group, at 6 hours 30 minutes from Singapore to Cairns and 6 hours 50 minutes on the Cairns – Singapore sector.

As such they fall into the more expensive Zone 9 in the KrisFlyer award chart, a rather costly miles rate that would also get you all the way to New Zealand on Singapore Airlines for the same amount.

KFtrans

KrisFlyer Redemption Singapore – Cairns
Saver Advantage
Economy 28,000 55,000
Business 58,000 90,000

Return fares on these flights in June are available from S$713 in Economy Class, which means a poor value use of miles at around 1.3 cents each.

Business Class return starts at S$3,747, a more respectable 3.2 cents per mile if you use the KrisFlyer scheme instead, however we wouldn’t part with that much cash or that many miles for a recliner seat on the Boeing 737.

MI 7M8 J.jpg
Whether it’s miles or cash, a seat like this for upwards of 7 hours isn’t worth it in our opinion. (Photo: SilkAir)

For example, longer 8-hour flights to and from Brisbane with Singapore Airlines are available for the same cash price or miles rate with a flat-bed product throughout June, including flights with the 2013 J and 2018 RJ seats.

Summary

SilkAir’s Cairns route has been steadily growing since inception in 2015. The airline has also increased flights to Cairns on a seasonal basis previously and then go on to make the upgrade permanent, in 2017 for example, and this pattern could be repeated in October 2019.

For now though the plan is for this daily service to be a temporary arrangement during the peak June to October 2019 period.

Spending close to seven hours in a Boeing 737 without flat-bed seats, however, for a relatively high miles or cash rate remains an unappealing prospect for us.

(Cover Photo: Rattaphol Kerdkaen via Flickr)

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